ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Tulloch is a British university lecturer who is best known as a survivor of the July 7, 2005 London Bombings. Continue reading “7/7 Survivor: Why we should not bomb Syria”
by TAJ HASHMI*
While people across the world for the last three years have been watching the unbelievable resurgence in state- and non-state-actor-sponsored violence and terror across the Arab World – Libya, Egypt, Syria, Gaza, and of late, Iraq – the Obama Administration’s recent decision to ramp up its nuclear capability has almost remained unnoticed to most analysts, let alone the common people. Even if, very similar to what happened during the Cold War, America’s ramped up nuclear capability does not lead to a nuclear conflagration, this is going to signal further nuclear proliferation, arms race and a new cold war. Some American analysts find it unbelievable, that “a president who campaigned for ‘a nuclear-free-world’ and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy”, has thumbed up a massive revitalization for new generation of nuclear warheads and weapon carriers. The price tag is estimated to be a trillion dollars over the next 30 years. The justifications for the “modernization of nuclear capabilities” – apparently not synonymous with increasing nuclear warheads – are baffling.
While Russia is alleged to be on the march; China is assumed to be pressing further its territorial claims to the detriment of its neighbors; and Pakistan is “expanding” its arsenal. Gary Samore, Obama’s nuclear adviser in his first term, has singled out Putin’s “invasion of Ukraine” as “the most fundamental game changer” in regard to America’s ramping up its nuclear capability. One assumes, thanks to the growing influence of the hawks in Washington, soon Iran’s purported nuclear capability will further rationalize America’s nuclear modernization program.
As a New York Times editorial (Sept 24, 2018) has pointed out, during the past six years Obama promised to make the world eventually nuclear arms free. And that his promises have substantially de-escalated the arms race: 13 countries so far have completely eliminated their nuclear materials, and 15 have destroyed portions of their stockpiles. Nevertheless, there are about 2,000 nuclear weapons located in 14 countries, and 25 countries have the materials and technology to build their own bombs.
What is apparently baffling is Obama’s raising the nuclear modernization budget from $70 to $84 billion a year. Interestingly, having no qualms with spending a trillion dollars to build a dozen nuclear submarines, 100 new bombers and 400 land-based missiles, and spending billions on weapon upgrades, the Congress hardly debated the issue.
As we know, in accordance with the “Weinberger Doctrine” (Weinberger was Reagan’s Defense Secretary), America does not want to commit the Vietnam mistakes. Now, it favors using overwhelming force for a swift and decisive victory, as it achieved in Iraq in 1991 and 2003. In 2011, America spent $739.3 billion on defense, equivalent to more than 45% of what the rest of the world spent on defense that year. Obama’s latest volte-face indicates two things: a) either he has started believing in American hawks who love to see their country as an empire, which should be on the path to “permanent war”; or b) he is too vulnerable to the overpowering influence of the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) on the Congress.
We have reasons not to blame Obama for his “ambivalence” towards arms race and nuclear escalation. The Nobel Laureate in Peace is anything but the “most powerful man in the world”. He cannot overpower the hawks and the MIC, who, as one analyst believes, want at least one major war every ten years in some distant part of the world. The hawks are good at generating fear among the bulk of Americans about the unknown or least known enemies, such as the ISIS and the Khorasan Group in Iraq and Syria.
In view of Obama’s latest “backsliding on nuclear promises”, one may argue as to why his administration and the beneficiaries of the “permanent war” should spend another trillion dollars in the next three decades on nuclear modernization while America has slowly and steadily entered into the arena of another long war in the Middle East against the ISIS, who seems to have appeared from nowhere, and despite its meager resources and manpower, captured substantial territories in Syria and Iraq. As America’s latest war is being planned – albeit with tepid support from five Arab autocracies, one of them (Saudi Arabia) also regularly behead people in the name of Islam and Shariah like the ISIS extremists – should make the hawks and MIC happy. So, why should the Obama Administration go for the nuclear modernization?
We believe the nuclear option is not for containing Russia, China or Iran. It is all about the “profits of war”. Another cold war or “cold peace” may lead to further arms race, even nuclear proliferation. Nevertheless, America and its Western allies would remain dominant militarily in the foreseeable future. It seems, America’s latest military adventure in the Arab World gives credence to what General Wesley Clark said about the Pentagon’s long-term plan to invade several countries in the region, including Iraq, Syria and Iran, without any specific reasons but – as one would guess – for the benefit of the MIC alone.
Similarly, one may argue that investing a trillion dollar on nuclear modernization would further benefit those who benefit from conventional wars as well. Conversely, one is not sure if the nuclear modernization in the long run might be more profitable (for the MIC) than waging unpopular wars against Syria and Iran! However, America’s ramping up the nuclear capability is likely to end the so-called unipolarity; and might usher in another cold war and “cold peace” hurting food supply, human rights, democracy and development across the world, especially in the Third World. Last but not least, nuclear modernization would eventually lead to nuclear proliferation. And there is no guarantee that terrorists and terrorist-states would not have access to nuclear technology.
Related link: The Overblown ISIS Threat: Prelude To Another Long War?
* The writer teaches security studies at Austin Peay State University at Clarksville, Tennessee. Sage has recently published his Global Jihad and America: The Hundred-Year Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan.
The situation in Syria is an object of serious preoccupation and once more the United States, assuming the role of the world’s policeman, proposes to invade Syria in the name of “Freedom” and “Human Rights”.
Continue reading “Open letter to President Barack Obama”
Regarding the facts:
Talking Points from Phyllis Bennis, Director, New Internationalism Project Institute for Policy Studlies
Tom Hayden – A Call for Forceful Diplomacy http://www.pdamerica.org/component/k2/item/1809-tom-hayden-a-call-for-forceful-diplomacy
McClatchy News Service, “To some, US case for Syrian gas attack, strike has too many holes,” http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/09/02/201027/to-some-us-case-for-syrian-gas.html#.Uid-LFcpg_g
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, “Which Syrian Chemical Attack Account Is More Credible?” http://www.fair.org/blog/2013/09/01/which-syrian-chemical-attack-account-is-more-credible/
Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro “On Syria, a U.N. Vote Isn’t Optional,” New York Times Op Ed,http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/opinion/on-syria-a-un-vote-isnt-optional.html
“The Rush to Bomb Syria: Undermining International Law and Risking Wider War,” Western States Legal Foundation Briefing Paper, http://wslfweb.org/docs/wslfsyriabrief1.pdf
Faith Group Statements Opposing Military Action in Syria—Not Exhaustive:
Letter from Trappist Nuns in Syria: “Blood Fills our Streets, our eyes, our hearts” (http://www.
Pope Francis: violence begets violence http://paxchristiusa.org/2013/
Pax Christi USA: http://paxchristiusa.org/2013/
US Conference of Catholic Bishops: http://www.usccb.org/news/
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas: www.sistersofmercy.org
NETWORK: National Catholic Social Justice Lobby: www.networklobby.org
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns and action items from CMSM, incl. Syrian bishop speaking out against U.S. Military Action: http://maryknollogc.org/
NCR Article: What moral theologians say about getting involved in Syria http://ncronline.org/news/
Pax Christi USA: http://paxchristiusa.org/2013/
Mennonite Church USA: http://www.mennoniteusa.org/?
United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ: http://globalministries.org/
Presbyterians (PCUSA): http://www.pcusa.org/
WASHINGTON — A U.S.-led attack on Syria without United Nations support would be a war crime regardless of congressional approval, Noam Chomsky, the antiwar activist and author, said in response to President Barack Obama’s announcement that he would seek Hill approval.
“As international support for Obama’s decision to attack Syria has collapsed, along with the credibility of government claims, the administration has fallen back on a standard pretext for war crimes when all else fails: the credibility of the threats of the self-designated policeman of the world,” Chomsky told HuffPost in an email.
Chomsky recently traveled to the region to learn more about the Syria crisis, and his comments there led some to believe he was open to military intervention if negotiations failed to produce peace. “I believe you should choose the negotiating track first, and should you fail, then moving to the second option” — backing the rebels — “becomes more acceptable,” he said.
But his comments to HuffPost indicate that he remains opposed to any military action that came without U.N. approval.
“[T]hat aggression without UN authorization would be a war crime, a very serious one, is quite clear, despite tortured efforts to invoke other crimes as precedents,” he added.
Liberals more associated with the establishment than Chomsky, who have nevertheless tended to be critical of the president’s foreign policy, cheered his decision to involve Congress as a step away from an increasingly imperial presidency and toward more democratic accountability of war making.
Chomsky upended the field of linguistics with a devastating critique of B.F. Skinner in 1959 that changed the way people think about human cognitive development. He has led a parallel career as a leading anarcho-syndicalist author, historian and activist.
Quite an alliance! Was it not the Three Musketeers who shouted “All for one and one for all” each time they sought combat? This really should be the new battle cry if – or when – the statesmen of the Western world go to war against Bashar al-Assad.
The men who destroyed so many thousands on 9/11 will then be fighting alongside the very nation whose innocents they so cruelly murdered almost exactly 12 years ago. Quite an achievement for Obama, Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the miniature warlords.
This, of course, will not be trumpeted by the Pentagon or the White House – nor, I suppose, by al-Qa’ida – though they are both trying to destroy Bashar. So are the Nusra front, one of al-Qa’ida’s affiliates. But it does raise some interesting possibilities.
Maybe the Americans should ask al-Qa’ida for intelligence help – after all, this is the group with “boots on the ground”, something the Americans have no interest in doing. And maybe al-Qa’ida could offer some target information facilities to the country which usually claims that the supporters of al-Qa’ida, rather than the Syrians, are the most wanted men in the world.
There will be some ironies, of course. While the Americans drone al-Qa’ida to death in Yemen and Pakistan – along, of course, with the usual flock of civilians – they will be giving them, with the help of Messrs Cameron, Hollande and the other Little General-politicians, material assistance in Syria by hitting al-Qa’ida’s enemies. Indeed, you can bet your bottom dollar that the one target the Americans will not strike in Syria will be al-Qa’ida or the Nusra front.
And our own Prime Minister will applaud whatever the Americans do, thus allying himself with al-Qa’ida, whose London bombings may have slipped his mind. Perhaps – since there is no institutional memory left among modern governments – Cameron has forgotten how similar are the sentiments being uttered by Obama and himself to those uttered by Bush and Blair a decade ago, the same bland assurances, uttered with such self-confidence but without quite enough evidence to make it stick.
In Iraq, we went to war on the basis of lies originally uttered by fakers and conmen. Now it’s war by YouTube. This doesn’t mean that the terrible images of the gassed and dying Syrian civilians are false. It does mean that any evidence to the contrary is going to have to be suppressed. For example, no-one is going to be interested in persistent reports in Beirut that three Hezbollah members – fighting alongside government troops in Damascus – were apparently struck down by the same gas on the same day, supposedly in tunnels. They are now said to be undergoing treatment in a Beirut hospital. So if Syrian government forces used gas, how come Hezbollah men might have been stricken too? Blowback?
And while we’re talking about institutional memory, hands up which of our jolly statesmen know what happened last time the Americans took on the Syrian government army? I bet they can’t remember. Well it happened in Lebanon when the US Air Force decided to bomb Syrian missiles in the Bekaa Valley on 4 December 1983. I recall this very well because I was here in Lebanon. An American A-6 fighter bomber was hit by a Syrian Strela missile – Russian made, naturally – and crash-landed in the Bekaa; its pilot, Mark Lange, was killed, its co-pilot, Robert Goodman, taken prisoner and freighted off to jail in Damascus. Jesse Jackson had to travel to Syria to get him back after almost a month amid many clichés about “ending the cycle of violence”. Another American plane – this time an A-7 – was also hit by Syrian fire but the pilot managed to eject over the Mediterranean where he was plucked from the water by a Lebanese fishing boat. His plane was also destroyed.
Sure, we are told that it will be a short strike on Syria, in and out, a couple of days. That’s what Obama likes to think. But think Iran. Think Hezbollah. I rather suspect – if Obama does go ahead – that this one will run and run.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr has suggested that high-level Syrian government figures could be assassinated as part of the US-backed civil war to oust President Bashir al-Assad. Carr?s remarks underscore the reckless and illegal character of the US-led regime change operation underway in Syria, taking place with the full support of the Australian Labor government.
Interviewed on Monday on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation?s ?Four Corners? program, the foreign minister expressed concern that the Syrian army had proven a more effective fighting force than the so-called rebels, who have been funded and armed by Washington?s allies in the region, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
?I think we?d know the conflict has evened up if there is a major defection from the Assad government, especially a defection that takes part of its armed forces with it,? Carr continued. ?Perhaps?this sounds brutal and callous?perhaps an assassination, combined with a major defection taking a large part of its military, is what is required to get, one, a ceasefire, and, two, political negotiations.? Continue reading “Australian foreign minister suggests ?assassination? of Syrian leaders”
But the obsession with radical Islam misses a more meaningful analogy for the current state of siege in the Middle East and Afghanistan: the helicopters hovering above the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon in 1975 as North Vietnamese tanks rolled into the city.
That hasty departure ended America?s long and costly involvement in Indochina, which, like the Middle East today, the United States had inherited from defunct European empires. Of course, Southeast Asia had no natural resources to tempt the United States and no ally like Israel to defend. But it appeared to be at the front line of the worldwide battle against Communism, and American policy makers had unsuccessfully tried both proxy despots and military firepower to make the locals advance their strategic interests. Continue reading “America?s Inevitable Retreat From the Middle East”
I’d thought of writing about Monsanto this week — the US-based biotech giant which is being sued by five million Brazilian farmers for 7.7 billion dollars for its seed-patenting, rightly dubbed “GM genocide” — but the press statement from Amnesty International USA, which had slipped into my inbox caught my eye.
Headlined, “Urgent: From Syria’s Frontlines“, it spoke of an Amnesty report to be released this week which has uncovered “widespread new evidence of heinous war crimes committed by the Syrian government armed forces and militias.” Amnesty’s ?investigations of the Houla and Dara massacres, claims the release, provides “unequivocal evidence that the Syrian army is responsible for gross violations of human rights on a massive scale.”
Only Bashar al-Assad’s armed forces and militias? Only the Syrian army? No mention of atrocities committed by the rebel forces? Of the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s admission that al-Qaeda is supporting the armed insurrection in Syria? Which, as Paul Joseph Watson points out, is consistent with reports that these same terrorists had helped to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi in Libya and had been airlifted to Syria by NATO forces? That al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has publicly lent support to Syrian rebel forces? (“Clinton: Al Qaeda, U.S., Helping Syrian Rebels,” Global Research, March 2, 2012). Continue reading “AMNESTY USA ON SYRIAN GOVERNMENT'S WAR CRIMES: The whole truth?”
Paul Joseph Watson
Monday, May 28, 2012
The British media has been caught yet again with its pants down in the effort to sell a NATO-led attack on Syria, with the revelation that BBC News used a years-old photo of dead Iraqi children to depict victims of an alleged government assault on the town of Houla.
In a report issued hours after the massacre, the BBC used a photo that was first published over nine years ago and taken in Al Mussayyib, Iraq. The image shows a child skipping over the dead bodies of hundreds of Iraqi children who have been transported from a mass grave to be identified.